Manhunt underway for suspect in shooting of 5 homeless men in New York and DC
The shooting took place between March 3 and March 12 and left two people dead, the New York Police Department and the Washington Metropolitan Police Department said in a joint statement. Each shooting occurred in the middle of the night and targeted homeless men, authorities said.
Three of the shootings took place last week in Washington, followed by two more in New York over the weekend.
The NYPD and MPD cited similar circumstances and characteristics in each attack, although they did not release specific details. Speaking to Bloomberg on Monday, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said a ballistics match helped law enforcement connect the shootings.
The agencies are working with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on the investigation and have offered a total of $55,000 for information leading to the suspect’s arrest.
Authorities released new footage of the suspect wanted in connection with the shooting and called on the public to help identify and locate him.
“We know this is a scary situation,” Bowser said at a Monday night news conference. “We know that our unprotected residents already face many daily dangers and it is unacceptable for anyone to target this vulnerable population.”
As authorities work to locate the suspect, Bowser has asked all residents not housed in New York City or Washington, DC to take shelter at this time.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams and NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell joined Bowser at the press conference in Washington, DC.
“He intentionally took the life of an innocent person,” Adams said. “He must be brought to justice.”
The mayors of both cities issued a joint statement on Sunday saying there was a “cold-blooded killer on the loose.” The agencies also released surveillance photos and a video of the suspect.
“Our homeless population is one of the most vulnerable and an individual who attacks them in their sleep is an exceptionally heinous crime,” said NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell. “We will use all tools, all techniques and all partners to bring the killer to justice.”
The NYPD has ordered its members to do wellness checks on people who appear homeless, according to a memo obtained by CNN sent on Sunday. Police have been instructed to show individuals a flyer with a photo of a man with whom police wish to speak about the shooting.
In a statement, the group Coalition for the Homeless linked the mayor’s decision to clean up the subways to violence.
“Despite the headlines, homeless New Yorkers are far more likely to be victims of violent crime than perpetrators,” the group said in a statement Sunday. “Saturday’s tragedy is an urgent reminder that many homeless New Yorkers choose to lie down on the subway because that’s where they feel safest in the absence of housing and shelters to low barrier.”
A timeline of filming
The second shooting was reported around 1:21 a.m. on March 8 in the 1700 block of H Street Northeast, MPD said. Officers found another man with apparent gunshot wounds and he was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Then, at approximately 2:54 a.m. on March 9, an MPD member noticed a fire in the 400 block of New York Avenue Northeast and the remains of a man were discovered after the flames were extinguished. The cause of death was determined to be multiple stab wounds and gunshot wounds, police said.
The fourth and fifth shootings took place in New York City early Saturday when the suspect opened fire on two apparently homeless people sleeping on the streets, killing one and wounding the other, the NYPD said.
Video shows a man who appeared to be homeless sleeping near the corner of King Street and Varick when an unknown suspect approached and shot him in the forearm, the deputy commander in chief said. NYPD, Henry Sautner, at a press conference Saturday. The man woke up and shouted, “What are you doing? to the shooter, who then fled, Sautner added.
Police were called to the scene around 4.30am on Saturday and the 38-year-old victim was taken to hospital for treatment.
In addition, investigators learned on Saturday of a second shooting in front of 148 rue Lafayette. There, officers found a man in a sleeping bag with gunshot wounds to the head and neck, and he was pronounced dead at the scene, Sautner said. Surveillance video shows a suspect approaching the sleeping victim around 6 a.m. and discharging a weapon, Sautner said.
Mayor Adams described surveillance videos of the two shootings in New York as “chilling”.
“This individual approached the two men, one at a time, you see him looking around, making sure no one was there, kicking the homeless man to make sure ‘he wasn’t sleeping and just murdered him,’ Adams said Sunday. “It was just something you wouldn’t have imagined happening in our city.”
Shootings are ‘heinous crimes’, say mayors
In their joint statement Sunday, Mayors Adams and Bowser called the shooting “heinous crimes” and called on residents to report any information that might help the investigation.
“The work to get this individual off our streets before he harms or murders another individual is urgent. The rise in gun violence has shaken us all and it is especially horrific to know that someone is out there. deliberately harming an already vulnerable population,” they said.
The mayors also called on homeless residents to take shelter.
“It is heartbreaking and tragic to know that on top of all the dangers facing homeless residents, we now have a cold-blooded killer on the loose, but we are confident that we will get the suspect off the streets and into custody,” they said.
New York City saw a 41% increase in total major crimes in the first few months of 2022 compared to the same period last year, including an almost 54% increase in robberies, a 56% increase in robbery incidents and a 22% increase in rape. reports, data show.
Murders were up 10%, while citywide shootings were down 1.3%, with 77 incidents in February 2021 and 76 incidents last month, according to NYPD data.
City officials are working to get homeless people to shelters, Adams said Sunday.
“We are also mobilizing on the streets to inform our homeless people to try to place them in shelters, those who wish,” Adams said. “Being homeless shouldn’t turn into homicide and I want to catch this bad guy.”
CNN’s Greg Clary, Brynn Gingras and Laura Studley contributed to this report.